[tabi] My responce to the FCB executive committee 05/22/2013

  • From: "Easy Talk" <Easytalk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 26 May 2013 16:50:52 -0400

Chip, thanks for giving us such a wonderful gift when you started tabi, Ever 
thought about say maybe a fabi that would be state wide
Looks like FCBL is not so open anymore.

Based on the attacks made on me and Sila during the FCB Executive Committee 
meeting held on May 22, I feel it necessary to explain the reasons for my posts 
to FCBL and this list and my decision to not remain a member of FCB.  I am also 
posting to the TABI list instead of the FCB list since the Executive committee 
took my remarks and concerns as inflammatory and as a personal attack on their 
President, rather than issues that have caused problems in the past and will 
continue to do so unless they are addressed and dealt with.  It was also made 
clear that my remarks will be suppressed by the moderator who was blamed for 
allowing them and will be dealt with accordingly.

Please feel free to send this message to whomever you like but I caution you 
about posting to FCBL.

First of all let me say my intention wasn't personal but rather Mr. Edwards 
political agenda based on his current actions and actions he has taken in the 
past.  Hopefully the facts I present will help you understand how I arrived at 
the conclusions I have. 

 I served as president of FCB from 2000 to 2004, past president from 2004 until 
2006 and as first vice president from 2006 until 2010, for a total of 10 years 
on the Executive committee and have a grate respect for following procedures 
outlined in the Constitution and bylaws and learned after my first business 
meeting as president that a president is a facilitator and as president should 
not inject personal opinions unless he turns control of the meeting over to the 
first vice president and speaks with the same rights of a member.  In most 
every case where a motion or open discussion has occurred during Mr. Edwards 
administration, he makes it pretty clear of his personal views and in my 
opinion influences the membership before a motion is brought to the floor and 
sets the tone of discussion as he did with the recent executive committee phone 
conference. As you will see before I am finished with this post, Mr. Edwards 
generally conducts FCB business through the executive committee rather than the 
board and convention.  During my administration, I learned from Carl McCoy that 
it was the Executive committee's responsibility to deal with emergency issues 
that couldn't wait for a formal board meeting  or convention and not designed 
to be a general mechanism for governing the organization and if my memory 
serves me correctly, is clearly stated in the FCB constitution and bylaws.  If 
a facilitator doesn't follow the rules then they open their self up for 
suspicion and promoting there own political agenda as Mr.  Edwards has done in 
my opinion.  The facilitator has a lot of power by the issues he allows to come 
to the floor and the information he presents to the group.  I am proud to say 
as president, I accepted constructive criticism as I think Sharon Youngs will 
affirm rather than attack the person giving it as Mr. Edwards as facilitator of 
the recent phone conference did.  As you will see, Mr. Edwards also uses 
influential members of FCB to his advantage to promote his agenda which was to 
attack me and by association attack Sila.

Now that you have an understanding of my opinion of Mr. Edwards style of 
administration, let's talk about the straw that broke the camel's back that led 
to my decision to resign from my duties in FCB and no longer be a member.

As many of you know, one of my strongest passions was to make the state of 
Florida bring its websites and software used by state agencies into compliance 
with ADA regulations.   In 2005, Governor Bush established the AEIT taskforce 
to deal with the issue and although I wasn't a member of the taskforce I 
attended all the meetings throughout the state as chairman of the Technology 
committee under Debbie Grubbs administration.  The taskforce consisted of a 
range of very committed people and the final report they sent to the Governor, 
by now would have brought the state into compliance with ADA regulations.  As 
the saying goes, what goes in the political sausage mill may not necessarily be 
what comes out and that was certainly what happened with the AEIT bill.  The 
only part of the bill that was passed but not enforced was the fact that any 
software purchased or upgraded after July 1 2006 must meet ADA regulations.  
After the AEIT bill dilemma, there was a complaint filed by Darla Rogers 
against Florida Protective Services pertaining to software that had in fact 
been updated after the July 1 deadline of 2006.  Shortly after that FCB passed 
a motion to allocate $20,000 for legal fees to file a law suit against the 
state.  The attorney handling Darla's case wanted to try Darla's case before 
filing suit on behalf of FCB in hopes of establishing a precedence which would 
strengthen the case for FCB.  Unfortunately Darla decided to settle with the 
state out of court which basically shot FCB out of the water and basically left 
FCB right where they started from. In 2010 it was already known that the People 
First software and phone system used by the state for personnel management 
wasn't accessible and that DBS had made various attempts to get DMS to correct 
the problem so the Technology committee decided to address the issue with DMS.  
We collected information from users of the system and evaluated the 
Myflorida.com website.  We then approached DMS to open a dialog on the matter 
and share our findings and give advice on how the problems could be corrected. 
I had about three meetings with DMS and after almost two years, Myflorida was 
updated to what I would say is an acceptable level of accessibility.  But it 
was apparent that nothing was going to be done about People First.  As chair of 
Technology I began to attempt to come up with another strategy to move FCB's 
efforts forward and during our Technology committee meeting in 2012, we agreed 
to and ask Resolutions to write a resolution to file a complaint with the 
Department of Justice.  The chairman of Resolutions Mr. Edwards wrote and 
presented the resolution at the 2012 convention which passed unanimously and 
instructed the president to file the complaint immediately.

 

About a month or so after the convention, I contacted Sally Benjamin and ask 
her if she knew if the complaint had been filed yet.  She didn't know but said 
she would check with Paul.  At some point after that she told me that the 
complaint had not been filed and Paul was setting up additional meetings with 
DMS, and a few other state agencies in an attempt to get the state to deal with 
our concerns.     

I think at this point is when I became irritated and somewhat angry at  Mr. 
Edwards blatant abuse of his and the Executive Committee's powers of the FCB 
constitution and bylaws by deciding to overrule a decision made by FCB on the 
convention floor by not filing the complaint immediately and certainly made Mr. 
Edwards aware of my concerns. Basically he told me since he was president and 
he had discussed it with the Executive committee he felt the decision was 
valid.  My thinking at this point was, well you have spent 8 years of your life 
trying to make a personal passion and goal of FCB happen, so what is a few more 
months and I actually had some FCB members bring that to my attention.  During 
the six months from the 2012 convention and the board meeting, we had 3 
meetings with DMS, Department of Revenue and Children and Family Services. Each 
agency had attorneys, ADA coordinators, department heads and even some college 
interns.  Sila, Sally and I attended in person.  Mr. Edwards attended via phone 
conference.  At the first meeting, the Chair had a number for Paul and was able 
to contact him.  Most of that meeting was introductions and getting the state 
people to understand that the statement sent by FCB was just some of the 
accessibility issues and didn't cover all non compliant software used by the 
state of Florida and I think the point was well made.  We even talked about ADA 
coordinators that had no idea of technology used by blind people. At the second 
meeting, we had fewer state people but most of the attorneys were there.  The 
chair didn't have a number that Paul could be reached at and neither did sally. 
 Fortunately Sila had his cell number and we were finally able to get him on 
the phone.  During that meeting, Mr. Edwards put the conference call on hold to 
take another call while we all waited and if I could have crawled under the 
table I would have.  After all the Technology Committee and I had done, I was 
very upset that Mr. Edwards didn't show up in person since he made the decision 
to go against the resolution and convention rule. At the third meeting all the  
       options by the state were taken off the table.  After each meeting prior 
to the last one, we set dates and times for the next meeting, but at the last 
one we were told, we would be contacted and since we never were, apparently Mr. 
Edwards came to the same conclusion I did six months prior, that being the 
state wasn't concerned with our issues.  At this point is when I decided to 
drop out of FCB. But again I decided not to do anything until the board meeting 
in November and make one more attempt to talk to Paul about my concerns.  Early 
on in the board meeting, Paul happen to be in my room and I invited him out on 
the balcony for a smoke and some conversation and in a passionate and intense 
manner informed him of my dismay of his handling of the DBS, AEIT issue and his 
style of administration.  He told me I didn't do a f-ing thing for the FCB 
board during my administration.  I thanked him for making my decision to drop 
out of FCB easier.  He opened the door and left.  And during the business 
meeting had the audacity to make a motion not to except my resignation and got 
a second and unanimous approval.  What was the meaning of that? Other than to 
show he has the power to do anything he desires when it comes to FCB business. 
I also contacted Mr. Edwards by phone two times prior to the board meeting with 
the same concerns and he hung up on me both times and that is exactly why I put 
my post on the FCBL and TABIi list.

If you really care about issues pertaining to blind citizens in Florida and 
advocate through an organization such  as FCB and not only have to deal with 
the issue but also fight the very organization  that should follow their own 
rules and support you and decide it is too much, it is basically akin to going 
through a divorce and wasn't a decision I made lightly and I believe most 
people in my situation would have done the same.  For some reason, based on Mr. 
Kratch's remarks during the executive Committee phone conference, in a effort 
to attack me said I was a naysayer that took my marbles and ran home with my 
tail tucked between my legs.  Mr. Kratch believe me you are way wrong if that 
is what you believe and I guess I could say the same about you when you abandon 
the board of the Miami Lighthouse, so what is your point? If that was the case 
I wouldn't have posted to the list as I did.

Now I want to address some of the remarks made by members of the Executive 
committee and strengthen my point on how Mr. Edwards uses his position as 
facilitator to set tone.  If I had been the facilitator, based on the post on 
both list serves I would have allowed members to speak first instead of 
allowing the tone to be set by the Executive Committee to attack someone who 
has dedicated many years to FCB.  In fact it is hard for me to believe it 
wasn't planned prior to the meeting based on some of the things that were said. 
Mr. Edwards starts out by talking about the moderation of the FCBl list serve 
and says "I think we have an obligation to treat each other like human beings 
and so when somebody questions someone's motivation or someone's intent or 
claims that someone has a agenda, think that becomes a issue if we need to 
discourage." This thinking is exactly why ACB broke away from NFB in the 1960's 
and having a open forum for blind people to openly express their views and not 
be stifled by organizational leaders.  As far as treating people like human 
beings, I guess hanging up on a dedicated member and walking away from a 
conversation is treating someone like a human being in his mind but posting my 
opinion isn't.  Next, Mr. Edwards explains the reason he felt the next director 
shouldn't be a former or current employ of DBS.  If he had done this in his 
report, not that I totally agree but at least I would have known why he feels 
the way he does, I would have not raised the issue.  Also during his report and 
the business meeting, he never said he was opposed to the next director being a 
FAASB member but does so on the conference call and that was my point in 
regards to the amount of information you choose to give or not give and how 
that can affect someone's opinion.  For example he takes great pain in 
discussing how Florida is different in the fact that NFB, FAASB and NFBF were 
cosigners of the resolution and in my mind, I equate that to mean we are on the 
same page.  How can a member just swallow that if they haven't been told what 
FAASB or NFBF's position is?  If this is true, why do we have separate 
organizations?  Is it possible that if we knew, the issue would have been 
discussed on the floor and the outcome would have been totally different than 
it was?

Next Mr. Edwards opens the floor for his Executive army to launch their attacks 
on me and Sila. Yes, Sila.  She was so flabbergasted by Jim Kratch's remarks 
and by that time the tone was so strong she was speechless and didn't even come 
to her own defense let alone mine.  It was as if small kids were being scolded. 
 Just for your information, Sila is the legal owner of Easy Talk.

Shortly after I decided to resign, the rumors began to fly That I would 
influence Sila to follow suit so let me set the record straight.  Sila and I 
have a strong marriage, yet respect our individuality and don't make decisions 
for each other.  If Sila decides to not be involved in FCB on a state level, 
you can thank Mr. Kratch for that.  Don't blame it on me.  We were both 
comfortable with where we were prior to the phone conference.

Before I respond to the remarks made by Mr. Kratch, let me remind you no one 
other than the members of the Executive committee would have been on the call 
if I hadn't posted the request from Sally.  I have also alluded to the fact 
that Paul uses influential members and the attack was planned. If you were 
listening or get a chance to hear the recording, Note Mr. Edwards calls on Mr. 
Kratch and Jim reminds him to respond to Mrs. Grubb's question and his remarks 
are not going to be as nice as hers and are personal in nature.  Mr. Kratch 
didn't ask to be heard. Hence it was planned. After Mr. Edwards finished 
responding to Mrs. Grubb, he again called on Mr. Kratch.    

In response to two committee members and member Mikey Wiseman  who, in a around 
about masculine  way indicated I didn't have the balls to be on the call.  Well 
my wife is the secretary and when she takes minutes she uses a digital recorder 
to record the call on mute so I heard it all and didn't speak since Mr. Edwards 
indicated in his post announcement of the meeting after my prodding, that he 
wasn't interested in comments from non members. And based on the tone and 
facilitation of the meeting Don't get me wrong he gave the opportunity but who 
in their right mind would dare go against the tone that had already been set.  
I can only think of one person and he wasn't allowed because he is a non 
member. 

Mr. Kratch starts spewing irrelevant trash from his mouth when he says 

 "want to talk about agendas Mr. Miller has been in the pocket of Craig Kiser 
for years when he was Executive Director of DBS, he had financial  contract 
after financial contract."  If he had spent a little time researching the 
procedure of how state contracts are handled he would have known how stupid and 
untrue his statement was and implies that Easy Talk and  Craig Kiser of 
conducting illegal activities as director of DBS. Or at least unethical 
practices.  It isn't the first time I have heard this statement made by other 
individuals and in fact have some pretty bizarre copies of email messages that 
were sent to the Commissioner of Education and Governor bush's office and some 
even requested investigation by the DOE IG.  To hear the same crap that Mr. 
Edwards allowed Mr. Kratch to say pisses me off and just shows he uses his 
authority to call someone out of order to his advantage.  If I ever heard 
anything that was out of order, Mr. Kracht's statement tops them all and had 
absolutely no relevance to the issue at hand except to attack me and Mr. Kiser. 
I must say out of all the people, this was the most craziest thing I ever 
thought I would hear come out of Jim Kratch's mouth. I considered Jim as a 
friend and can only attribute it to him being in Paul's pocket as he has so 
stupidly accused me and Mr. Kiser not to mention the thousands of dollars FCB 
and both he and Paul have bought from Easy Talk. I guess I am in their pocket 
too.  Formal state contracts go through a state bid process unless a vendor is 
sole source and we did sell products to DBS under the sole provider provisions 
but Easy Talk was the sole source way before Mr. Kiser started working for DBS. 
 I assume just because DBS made purchases from Easy Talk that puts me in Craigs 
pocket so what about Florida Reading and Emerald Coast?  If I was in Craig's 
pocket, when he decided to purchase computers for the vendors, he would have 
given me the entire state instead of splitting the state down the I4 corridor 
and gave the vendors the right to choose which vendor they preferred.   It is 
such a shame that anyone would make such remarks, it's almost like blind people 
don't want to see another blind person succeed and even worse coming from an 
organization with a mission statement like FCB's. I can say Both Sila and I 
consider this a personal attack not only by Mr. Kratch but also FCB since it 
occurred in an official meeting and not one member of the committee objected.

Since this issue came up in an official meeting of FCB, I think it is necessary 
to explain my relationship with Mr. Kiser.  Before I start, I want to say I 
don't care who the next director of DBS is except to say I am absolutely 
opposed to it being anyone who has ever been associated with FAASB and I say 
that based on Mrs. Hildreth's administration and FAASB's contractual 
relationship with DBS, talk about being in someone's pocket.

In 1991 when Easy Talk was started, The Tallahassee Democrat ran a story in the 
local paper.  About two weeks after that I received a call from Craig who was 
in private law practice at the time.  He had never used a computer and ended up 
purchasing a computer, scanning system and training.  I didn't know Craig prior 
to that.  When Mr. Kiser went to work for the Comptroller's office he was 
apparently pleased with the service I provided prior and again called me to 
assist with the computer he was using in his new job.  If you had good service 
for 10 years, why not use a valuable resource as Director of DBS.  Believe me 
when I say there were things Craig did while he was Director that I did not 
agree with and if you know me at all, you can bet I made it known to him but in 
no way influenced or changed anything he did as Director.

Debbie Drylie,  in regards to your remark "I just want to kind of um echo what 
everyone else said." This just strengthens my point that no one will go against 
anything Mr. Edwards says.  Can you give me one example where the Executive 
committee ever disagreed with Mr. Edwards?  In my opinion the current Executive 
committee is no more effective than the yes boards of FAASB members.  In 
regards to your statement that I abandoned FCB, I think you have it backwards.  
I was abandoned by FCB in the fact it seems OK to violate their own 
constitution and bylaws.  As far as the direction of which way the arrows are 
flying over the wall, again you have the direction wrong.  I guess you have 
forgotten who spent about a hour with you encouraging you to run for office.  
Thanks for the vote of confidence. I know you are a much stronger person than 
that, I have seen you in action in defense of Project Insight.

Mrs. Grubb, in regards to your concerns of people posting inflammatory remarks 
to FCBL and wanting to tighten up moderation of the list, I tried to take my 
issues to Paul in the past without success and FCBL is supposed to be an open 
forum for people to talk about issues of concern to blind people and that is 
exactly what I was doing.

In closing there is just one more thing I want to say to Mr. Edwards.  Do you 
remember the seminar we had on Sunday morning a few board meetings back where 
we talked about why blind people don't choose to join or remain a member of 
organizations of the blind? Well I think you now have the answer.  As a citizen 
of Florida I have the right to contact the Governors office and press with any 
issue I so desire but FCB doesn't have the right to stifle me through 
intimidation. You lost one good dedicated member and if you continue, you will 
lose more.  Regardless of what people say and think, I loved what FCB use to be 
but absolutely deplore what it has become. When you were president of ACB you 
didn't use this style of administration and if you had, you would have never 
gotten away with it and you know it.

  

Robert

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  • » [tabi] My responce to the FCB executive committee 05/22/2013 - Easy Talk